Film festival returns to Allegheny campus


Brittany Adams

Kelsi Nicholson, ’17, gets costume makeup applied to her face prior to shooting a horror film scene for the AFTV’s 48 Hour Film Festival on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

The Allegheny Film and Television club hosted the college’s first 48 Hour Film Festival since 2013 this weekend. The event began Friday, Feb. 3, in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts, where the teams gathered to receive the official rules of the competition as well as some words of encouragement from the AFTV members who organized the festival.

AFTV’s first major event brought together students from inside and outside the video production realm, first-year seminar courses, Union Latinx and other clubs, dorm halls, international students and friends.

The teams had 48 hours, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3 and ending at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5 to write, film and edit a short piece to be screened at Sunday evening’s closing celebration, a film production challenge that induced creativity as well as sleep deprivation for many teams that worked late.

According to the 48 Hour Film Project website, the festival is part of a global movement launched in 2001. It is dedicated to encouraging people to connect with one another and realize the imaginative power of film.

River Branch, associate professor of communication arts and adviser to AFTV, emphasized the significance of Allegheny’s festival, as it is just one of places to hold the 48 Hour Film Project. She said that within the Great Lakes Colleges Association, Allegheny is fortunate to have the capacity to hold such a festival.

“Only a little over half of GLCA schools even have video production programs,” Branch said.

So students of varying levels of experience had a notable opportunity to create, if only briefly, within the world of filmmaking, but the festival also marked a new era for film and television groups on campus.

AFTV was revived earlier this academic year as an integration of two former campus groups: Allegheny Film Union and Allegheny College Television. After the dissipation of AFU and ACTV, students reformed the two groups into Allegheny Film and Television.

AFTV Co-Presidents Amy Currul, ’17, and Kassandra Kyriakis, ’17, took the lead on reviving the 48 Hour Film Festival.

Fifteen teams presented films on Sunday, with themes ranging from feline comedy to the paranormal. But they were all required to feature two curious elements: a pink rubber duck and a glowstick.

“AFTV board members thought, ‘How random can we go with this to make people be creative?’” said AFTV treasurer Gina Checchio, ’17.

The two props, along with the line, “And that was the last time we ever saw him/her/they,” were required elements for the filmmakers, in addition to the restriction of doing all the work during the allotted 48 hours.

Many of the groups planned to implement some form of structure: conceive the idea on Friday, shoot on Saturday, and edit until the submission deadline on Sunday.

From the start, teams anticipated some—or perhaps a lot—of deviation from that structure.

“I’m sure there’ll be scrambling that won’t be planned,” said Emma Rockenbeck, ’18, a member of the team Pacific Productions.

While the general scramble was a common thread from team-to-team, the conceptual decisions were diverse.

Pacific Productions, winners of Best Use of Props, presented, “The Pond,” in which Dipto Mukherjee, ’19, was instructed by an electronic version of the pink duck to “find the light” before the locked room went dark. The piece ended with the glowstick illuminating Mukherjee’s face.

More comedic films included Cat Cinema’s “50 Years of Cat Cinema,” and French Toast Mafia’s “Looking for Love.”

Dorm of the North’s “Keanu’s Journey” stood out to win the Audience Choice award. The character of Keanu, an overzealous Allegheny student, made it all the way to Woodcock Dam, some four miles from campus, trying to find her classroom.

An out-of-breath Keanu finally made it to class at the end of the film, and laughter erupted from the audience. Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” played as the credits rolled.

The Best of the Fest award honored Oldies But Goodies’ “Barefoot in the Woods.”

Perhaps the most thrilling film of the evening, “Barefoot in the Woods” opened with radio dialogue describing mysterious disappearances. By the end of the film, two individuals and a car had disappeared within a wooded area, leaving the audience with a frightening image of a woman’s blood-stained mouth and face.

Such variety made for a compelling evening and satisfied The 48 Hour Film Project’s purpose of cultivating imagination.

Currul and Kyriakis expressed their appreciation for campus support and participation, especially considering Super Bowl festivities had begun before they had completed screening the films and giving awards.

“I’m so proud that everyone showed up and made really great films. I’m always impressed with people with little production experience and what they can come up with,” Currul said.

Because most of the participants had “little production experience,” their motives seemed to be rooted in discovery, rather than the rigidity of a course assignment.

One of the best parts of the event was to see how much work people put in for fun, Kyriakis said.

“I feel good graduating knowing that this will continue on,” Kyriakis said. “I think that Allegheny College film has a presence on campus again.”